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Game recap: City 1 Reading 0

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It was important that Thursday's defeat in Europe was quickly banished with a win yesterday, not just to ensure progression in the FA Cup but to use victory for momentum and as a platform for the remainder of the season.

It wasn’t the convincing performance hoped for however, at times displaying the familiar frustrations of recent weeks, but in the absence of a dominating display it was a hard working showing that ultimately brought about a deserved win.

 

At times it looked a tired performance, from a side who had a long journey back from Kiev less than 72-hours previously, but whilst the performance was punctuated by frustration and a sense that there was always more to come, the side stuck at the task well and their patience rewarded when Micah Richards headed home with little over fifteen minutes remaining to set up a semi-final clash with United at Wembley next month.

 

Mancini made changes from Thursday night’s defeat in Kiev; part fatigue but primarily tactical. Back came Nigel de Jong, whose presence has been sorely missed and a switch in attack: Carlos Tevez back in the starting line-up, flanked by David Silva and Shaun Wright-Phillips, the latter perhaps to inject some of the pace and directness lacking since Adam Johnson went down injured.

 

Reading started brightly, attacking with purpose down both flanks and troubling rather than necessarily worrying City. City saw plenty of the ball, with Silva as ever the key whilst the re-assuring de Jong’s seemingly omnipresent. Despite the possession that was enjoyed, City struggled to get a grip or foothold on the game during the first forty-five minutes with half-chances more than anything carved out.

Goalless at the break then and nerves definitely present; with the draw having been made prior to kick-off there was a sense that the stakes had been raised further. City’s record when level at the break was patchy: winning just four of the eleven games that had been tied at half-time.

 

If not entirely convincing still after the break, there was at least a greater sense of purpose and conviction in the play. This led to greater and more sustained pressure on the Reading goal, whilst in turn, Reading’s threat receded and it was no surprise when the goal finally came: Silva’s corner powerfully converted by Micah Richards.

United now await in the semi-finals then as City bid to make their first FA Cup final in 30-years. The two sides have met once previously at this stage: back in 1926 when City prevailed 3-0 before being defeated 1-0 by Bolton in the final.